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Current Fischers Sign_edited.jpg

Current Condition

June 2022

Ghost Sign_edited.jpg

From the LMAHS


Help restore a piece of Lake Mills history

Unfortunately this proposed project has been suspended due to new ownership of the building. It is his desire to not restore the Ghost Sign. Perhaps in the future this project could be reconsidered for the betterment of our historic downtown area.

LMAHS is a 501c3 charitable organization.

Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

General Donations to support our mission to share local history can be mailed to:
Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society
P.O. Box 122
Lake Mills, WI 53551

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History of Fischer's Dry Goods Store

After opening their first store in Watertown (1895), Fischer & Sons opened a second location in Lake Mills in 1902 at the corner of East Lake and Main Street. In 1912 they moved to 140 East Lake Street. The building was originally built by Charles Greenwood as a bowling alley prior to the Fischer’s relocating.


The store was run by Charles, Julius, Eli and Otto Fischer; and eventually his son Harold. They permanently closed the doors in 1973. Fischer’s offered a wide variety of household items, clothing, general dry goods. They sold groceries until 1946 when another competing store came to town. Fischer’s took advantage of the growing demand for home furnishings and switched focus from groceries to meet the demand. The telltale sign of this change can be seen on the historic image of the sign where “Groceries” has a strike through. In addition to being a businessman, Otto Fischer was very civic minded and served on the school board for several terms while his wife was active in the community in various church and civic organizations.


Mr. Fischer, a devoted small town businessman was grateful for his customers and was quoted “Farmers didn’t get into town so often in those days. And when they did come, they would often buy clothing for the whole family for the season.”


The business survived the stock market crash of 1929 and the panic leading to the Great Depression, several years of war including WW1 and WW2 when there was a sharp decline in small businesses due to food and goods rationing. When Fischer’s had their “going out of business” sale in 1973 they were the last business with the diversity of a general goods store in Lake Mills at that time. The remaining small businesses were specialized retail or serviced based. The new “discount” stores such as Kmart, and Shopko were appealing to consumers who were traveling further for good, services and discounts. Small hometown, family based dry goods stores like Fischer’s were the end of an era.

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